Writing negative book reviews

Here’s the thing: I don’t fall in love with every book. It’s impossible. Authors, readers, reviewers – we’re all different people! And that’s what makes it special, because if we were all the same and we all liked the same things it’d be so boring.

Reviewing a book is such a subjective thing. Something one reader dislikes could be something another reader appreciates. But we share our opinions anyway. And why is that? There are so many books out there. When I’m looking for something new to read, rather than pulling a book at random (that happens, occasionally!) I’ll often read reviews or consult friends.

And likewise, if I like a book, I want to share it with others. There’s a desire to help promote the book, because I enjoyed it and believe others will, too. Specifically, I’ll want to explain why I enjoyed the book as much as I did. In every one of my reviews, I try to be as specific as possible (without spoilers, of course!).

I liked this book because…the characters were well-developed (I’ll usually give an example), the plot was original, the world building was fantastic (this is typically due to detail, or imagery), the book was humorous, etc.

Likewise, if I DIDN’T like the book, I write a review simply to explain my reasoning. And, often, the very things that I like about some books cause my dislike for others.

I didn’t like this book because…the characters weren’t well-developed (and fell flat), the plot was too predictable, the world-building was shallow, the book didn’t live up to its description (i.e., it WASN’T humorous as the back flap said it would be), etc.

In everything I write, I want to be honest. This includes all of my book reviews. That said, I will NEVER attack an author or insult their work. When it comes to writing a book review, there needs to be a level of respect. If I didn’t like the book, I will say so. But I will always try to explain why, and I’ll always try to find something I did like about the book (a redeeming quality).

And I believe it’s important to recognize when a book didn’t work for you simply because it’s not your favorite genre, or you didn’t agree with the subject matter. Because that’s entirely personal preference.

Last week I reviewed a book I didn’t like. I was actually quite surprised when I finished reading this book and realized I just didn’t like it much. I considered not writing a review, because I knew I’d have to be honest about my feelings. But I realized that wouldn’t be quite fair, to only post positive reviews.

I hope I wrote an honest but respectful review. I’ve actually read a glowing review of the same novel by a blogger I admire, and so I recognize there will always be differences of opinions. What I wrote about the novel is my personal opinion, and I did my best to explicitly explain it. I don’t often write negative reviews, and that’s what prompted me to write this post. It just felt like something I needed to address. Often, what I write/post on my blog is a record of what I’ve learned or am currently learning.

Please share your thoughts about reading/writing negative book reviews. Let’s have a conversation.


2 thoughts on “Writing negative book reviews

  1. Brooke Younker

    Good post! Negative reviews are hard. We all want to support each other as writers and readers but not everything works for everyone, and I think it’s great you’ve made that distinction between your feelings toward an author and feelings toward a particular work of theirs. Sometimes we forget all writers write for the same reason (because we love it!) and if we don’t like a particular piece we can still respect and support an author for all they’ve accomplished 🙂

    Overall though I think negative reviews are necessary. I don’t often purchase a book without reading both negative and positive reviews because I like to see what people liked/didn’t like about a book and why. Also, if every book was rated 5 stars, we’d never find those *really* good books 😉

    1. brooke Post author

      Thanks so much 🙂 I totally agree – as writers, we know how damaging negative remarks can be, and that’s why it’s important to be respectful of other’s work while also being honest. And I love what you wrote about finding the *really* good books. That’s the reason we give ratings! So sorry it’s taken me so long to respond – I didn’t even see your comment until just now!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge